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  • Writer's pictureLama Jigme Gyatso

Preventing Self-confidence from Feeding Ego

Jeremy wrote and asked:

“How does one separate confidence from ego?

It is a constant struggle of mine.”

When our mindfulness is vulnerable,

which is truly needs to be,

there will be times when we feel

rather confident.

Like most things

upon the Buddha’s path of matriarchy

it is neither good nor bad

but simply is.

For, as Dud-jom Rin-po-che reminded us

in his prayer of Calling the Lama from Afar,

Whatever arises,

is the expression of Dhar-ma-ka-ya,

and is neither good nor bad.”


like a scalpel,

which may be used

to heal or harm,


like many other things,

may be use to strengthen

the illusion

of a permanent,


and oh so solid self

that many pseudo-intellectual teachers

describe as ego.

But since the Buddha

did NOT use the Greek word “ego”

and Doctor Freud,

who resurrected that word,

did not use it that way

let us too refrain

from using it that way.

NO, NOT out of intellectual snobbery,

but simply because misapplying

a psychoanalytical term

to the Buddha’s teachings

multiplies confusion

and thwarts the Buddha’s path of mastering:

the active contemplation of love and letting go

as well as passive mindfulness and meditation.

Indulge me as I moon-walk

backwards in time.

What the Gelugpa describe

as self-grasping,

and what the Nyingmapa describe

as obstructions to omniscience…

the Mahayana describe

simply as pride;

which is only but one

of five mental poisons

that one is bound to notice

as one practices the vulnerable mindfulness

mandatory to the successful practice

of both Ma-ha-mu-dra and Trek-chöd.

What, then, are we to do

when sitting in passive practice

of setting mindfulness upon our inhalation

and meditation upon our exhalation…

when we notice the hate that shoves,

or the greed that reaches,

or the confusion that fearfully clutches,

or the competitive jealousy

that forgets that we’re all in this together,

or the self-centered pride

that forgets impermanence?

Are we to resort to self-talk,

which ignores the realities of neuroscience

as well as the Buddha’s teachings

of the seven enlightenment factors?

Will we strive to push pride away

in the name of letting-go

which is rather like making-love

in the name of virginity

not to mention

the way it can repress

our process of mindfulness

so mandatory to enlightenment’s path?

How are we to transcend

any mental poison

without falling deeper

into duality’s habit energy…

of hating and craving,

or dreading and desiring,

or pushing and pulling,

or fearing and hoping?

Just as Sauron diabolically created one ring

to rule them all,

similarly the Buddha kindly taught one response

to all phenomena.

And having one response

is really rather handy

for by applying it to:

all that is external or internal…

all that is physical or mental,

all that is pleasurable or painful,

all that is interesting or boring,

and all that is glorious or grotesque

we disrupt the habit energy of duality,

that self-same duality that drowns us

in the Samsara’s sea of stress.

But what is it?

What is the single response

to all phenomena

that could truly liberate us?

Letting go!

And how are we to do that?

Just as evolutionary biology

has wired our bodies

to subtly tighten during each IN-breath

it has also wired our physiques

to subtly relax during each OUT-breath.

Fortunately just as inhalation’s constriction

is the ideal moment to practice vulnerable mindfulness

likewise exhalation’s relaxation

is the ideal moment to mentally release.

How ironic it is

that the passive noticing and release

so integral to both

Mahamudra and Trekchöd

are as close

as our next

round of breath!

What are we to do

when we notice pride

during our inhalation?

As we exhale

let us physically relax

as best we can

thus setting space

to mentally release.


we do not have to obsessively

analyze or label

that which we notice

like Renfield forever organizing

and reorganizing his insects…

for that will undermine

the relaxation

so necessary

for release.

If we must use a label

then let us use the universal label “this”

that duality, distinction, and contrivance

might be very well side stepped

as Dudjom Rinpoche encouraged,

May freedom from craving and contrived deeds

be your action.”

Together let us practice these techniques

in this livestream’s guided meditation

upon who’s threshold

we now stand.

Let us conclude

with a simple

call to action

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not by monasteries but by students

as such the production of these livestreams,

blogs, and class materials is supported

by the generosity of viewers, and listeners, and readers

just like you.

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